Squiz Today / 18 May 2023

Squiz Today – Thursday, 18 May

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Squiz Today Podcast

We’ve got news, you’ve got ears. It’s a perfect match. 

Today’s listen time: 9.00 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“My client is a hardworking Australian who was simply trying to have his afternoon tea after finishing work.”

Said the lawyer of a Sydney man who successfully challenged a fine for using his phone while driving after he proved he was actually eating a packet of Dippits – the Aldi version of Le Snak. Not so lucky was a speedy driver who tried to swap seats with his dog

The Quad is canned as debt talks simmer

We mentioned yesterday that next week’s Quad summit in Sydney was on shaky ground after US President Joe Biden pulled out… And late yesterday, PM Anthony Albanese said the meeting between member countries Oz, the US, Japan and India had been postponed. Biden has cancelled the Australian and Papua New Guinea legs of his overseas trip because his mind is on domestic issues in the US – namely, talks to resolve the US debt ceiling cluster disaster before 1 June. But Biden will still attend the G7 leaders summit in Japan this weekend, and Albanese says he hopes to pin down the Quad leaders for informal security talks there. “We are attempting to get together over that period of time [and] I’ll have a bilateral discussion with President Biden,” he said.

Lolz… It’s a whole thing, but let’s summarise. The debt ceiling is a legislated limit on the amount of money the US Federal Government can borrow to pay for everything it spends money on. The problem is US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned the US might run out of money to pay its bills if Democratic and Republican leaders don’t agree on a new debt ceiling limit by the end of the month. Not lifting the ceiling means the US would default on its debts, and that would affect pretty much everything – paying the salaries of US government/military workers, defence contracts, social security and Medicare. More broadly, reports say it could tank global financial markets – including here – and likely push the US into a nasty recession. Yellen said a default would lead to an “unprecedented economic and financial storm”…

Instead of selfies in Sydney (in matching sunnies, no less…), we’re likely to see more pics of Biden meeting with Republican leaders as they negotiate. To lift the debt ceiling, Biden has to get the Republicans on side – and that might mean giving into some of their demands. Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy and his team are pressuring Democrats to reallocate funds and make spending cuts in the 2023-24 budget. If they don’t reach an agreement this month, it will become the 1st time in history that the US defaults on its debts. But they seem to be making some headway – McCarthy says, “negotiations are finally underway for a responsible debt limit increase”, and Biden says they agree that “defaulting on the debt is simply not an option”. No pressure, then…

AusPol World News

Squiz the Rest

Investigation deepens into Kiwi hostel fire

The Wellington hostel fire that killed at least 6 people is officially an arson/homicide investigation, police have confirmed.Inspector Dion Bennett said the death toll is expected to rise, with about 20 people unaccounted for. He didn’t say why police believe the fire was deliberately lit, but a few persons of interest are on their radar. Reports of a separate couch fire at the hostel 2 hours before the deadly blaze are also being investigated. Police were able to enter the Loafers Lodge building to examine the scene for the first time yesterday – a process that will take several days. PM Chris Hipkins said that one of his uni mates was among the missing and that the Kiwi Government would look into whether the country’s building regulations were fit for purpose.

Crime World News

Prince Harry and Meghan in ‘chaotic’ NY car chase

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in a “near catastrophic” incident when the paparazzi chased the car they were travelling in on Tuesday night, their people say. The couple was with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland when they left an awards ceremony in NYC in a limousine. They were then involved in a “relentless pursuit” that lasted nearly 2 hours, resulting in “multiple near collisions”. One of the couple’s security officers Chris Sanchez said “about a dozen vehicles – cars, scooters and bicycles” were involved. In a statement, police confirmed they had “no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests”. Harry has spoken about his frustration that neither his family nor the UK Government would provide the Sussexes with the resources for security. And in his chat with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, he talked about Diana’s death following a paparazzi chase in Paris and his fears about “history repeating itself” in the case of his wife, Meghan.

World News

Wages be rising

If the see-sawing economy has turned you into a numbers nerd, you’ll be super into the highly-anticipated wages data from the Bureau of Statistics yesterday. Why’s the data so hot? Economists were worried that strong wage growth would cause more spending, which would inflate prices, which would lead to the Reserve Bank ramping up interest rates again… But yesterday’s stats showed wages were up 0.8% between January-March, adding up to a 3.8% rise since last March – and analysts reckon that means we might avoid that wage-price spiral. That wasn’t the only bit of wages news yesterday: the Fair Work Commission is now considering how much to raise the minimum wage, and the unions are calling for a rise in line with inflation, roughly 7%. To be continued…

Australian News Business & Finance

‘Regulate me’, ChatGPT CEO asks

You don’t often hear someone asking for regulation to be heaped on them, but that’s what happened when OpenAI boss Sam Altman asked for it in front of a US Congressional committee yesterday. OpenAI is the outfit behind ChatGPT, which launched less than a year ago and has already upended the tech industry. In his first appearance before lawmakers, Altman said that “regulation of AI is essential” to mitigate its potential harms like mass misinformation, deep fakes and stolen identities, turfing humans out of jobs, reinforcing existing discrimination, and killer robots… So just a couple of things… But, Altman said, AI also has the potential to “address some of humanity’s biggest challenges like climate changes and curing cancer”. That cost-benefit analysis is a real doozy – which is why Altman doesn’t want to go it alone, calling for an agency to monitor the use of AI models. It’s unclear if regulation would allow a Tom Hanks clone or new ways of marketing the Bible

Technology World News

Too tired to exercise

That’s what some of us say to ourselves every other day when hitting the snooze button on the morning run alarm, and it’s also one of the top reasons people gave for why they didn’t lead healthier lifestyles, according to a new UK survey. A YouGov poll of 2,086 adults conducted for the World Cancer Research Fund found that 35% said fatigue is why they hadn’t made positive changes to their diet and exercise habits, with more women (40%) than men (29%) feeling that way. As for the other reasons, 38% of respondents nominated a lack of motivation, followed by the cost of food (30%) and exercising (25%), lack of time (26%) and work/life balance (25%). And nearly a quarter (24%) took the honest route and admitted nothing was actually preventing them from being healthier; they just didn’t feel like it. Guilty. As. Charged.


Apropos of nothing

There have been mixed reactions to Johnny Depp’s first major film role since last year’s high-profile legal battles. His new French-language film Jeanne du Barry opened the Cannes Film Festival a day after 100 actors signed an open letter criticising the move. You’d be forgiven for forgetting there are also a few other big titles premiering…

A Sydney café is charging $1,500 for a single cup of coffee made from special beans grown beside a Panama volcano. It has to be pre-ordered so the beans can be shipped here, but there are more budget-friendly options ranging from $4.50-$200…

A snap of a Mumbai street hawker selling bright pink cotton candy has taken out the top prize for the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year Awards. We hadn’t heard of them until now, either, but the finalists are definitely worth a look.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

ABS Data Release – Labour Force, April

Company Results – Aristocrat Leisure; Xero

International Museum Day

A birthday for Tina Fey (1970)

Anniversary of:
• Napoleon Bonaparte being proclaimed Emperor of France (1804)
• the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)
• India becoming the 6th nation to explode an atomic bomb (1974)
• the debut of Shrek (2001)
• the Morrison Government winning the ‘unwinnable’ 2019 election

Squiz the Day

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